Labor induction is rapidly becoming the norm in many hospitals. It is alarming that at present, 1 in 5 labors are medically induced. There are some pre-existing health conditions that require concluding the pregnancy even before the due date. In some cases, the baby may have a congenital condition which requires intervention or special care at birth. Labor induction may be necessary also if the water has broken, but the labor has not started within two days or the mother has a serious infection, high blood pressure or diabetes. In these cases, the controlled environment of an induction may be one of the reasons to induce labor. However, it’s essential that the potential risks to the mother or the baby are cautiously considered before medical labor induction.
Before medical labor induction, the mother’s cervix and pelvic are examined and the baby’s presentation and size are estimated. Based on these studies, doctors decide which labor inducers and methods of labor induction are used, and estimate the possible need for repeat induction or cesarean delivery.
If the cervix is not ripe, mechanical dilation methods will be used before the medical labor induction, with the intention to make the cervix more favorable for labor. These medical methods include osmotic and hygroscopic dilators, Atad Ripener Device, and the Foley catheter. Administration of synthetic prostaglandins into the vagina, in the form of gel or insert, could also be used in order to help the cervix to ripen before medical labor induction. When necessary, the medical ripening of the cervix is usually started in the evening and continued through the night.
To start labor contractions, the uterus is stimulated with synthetic drugs such as Oxytocin, Misoprostol or Mifepristone. These medicines are administrated through an intravenous (IV) catheter placed in one’s hand or arm, or orally as tablets. As sensitivity to these medicines, and the timeframe in which the drugs work, differ from an expectant mother to another, correct administration of the labor inducing drugs can be challenging. Due to the fact that medication used for cervical ripening and labor induction can cause complications, continuous monitoring of fetal heart rate and uterine activity is compulsory during the induction and labor.
The biggest, and probably the most frustrating, risk of labor induction is that it takes days for the labor to start or it doesn’t work at all. If you are having a labor induction for your first birth, the risks are typically greater. Medical studies have found that compared to mothers who start labor naturally, labor induction at least doubles the risk of the cesarean birth (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, April 2005). If the cervix is not ripe, the chances for cesarean birth are even higher. Medical labor induction also tends to lead to longer labor and increases the use of vacuum or high forceps for delivery.
Because medical labor induction could be very stressful, it’s recommended to bring on labor naturally using well-known and safe methods, such as maternity acupressure. Stimulation of specific acupressure points helps the cervix to ripen and the baby to engage. Some other acupoints stimulate labor contractions. What is wonderful is that maternity acupressure doesn’t overstimulate the womb and it’s easy to use because acupressure is simply applying pressure on specific pressure points along your body. With basic instructions you can use it safely at home to encourage the labor to start naturally.